What Stace had to say on Monday, August 4th, 2008
Be a sex-writing strumpet Pt 11

***insert generic disclaimer***

Telling Isn’t Sexy

Q. What is a sex scene about?

A. A sex scene is about sex.

Except it isn’t.

Or rather, it is about the physical act of sex only at its most basic level. Sex is the action, but just as our action scenes are about more than that (danger, adventure, knowledge gained, change, whatever) so are our sex scenes.

A sex scene is about what your characters are feeling, thinking, and learning about themselves and each other.

And this is the key to writing a hot sex scene. Let’s take a look at this scene from Blood Will Tell with all of the physical sensation, thinking, and emotion removed—as well as all the foreplay, because foreplay is hugely important and will be covered extensively later. In other words, it is straight sex, just physical action:

Without preamble he slammed into her hilt-deep. Cecelia’s back arched and she cried out. Her voice mingled with his as he too yelled.
Gripping her hips hard, he pulled back, then thrust again, and again.
He reached down between her legs, finding her clit and rubbing it. He pinched it lightly, tugging on it, then letting go and grazing it in a circular motion with his palm. Her cries grew louder. So did his.
His free hand braced the top of her ass, and he shifted so he could slip his thumb into the puckered entrance and fuck her with it that way, continuing his assault on her clit.
She came. “Julian!”
He smacked her ass. His handprint showed red on one soft, round cheek as blood rushed to the surface.
“Cecelia,” he groaned, “Fuck…Cecelia…I could fuck you a million times and it wouldn’t be enough. It’s never enough.”
She didn’t reply.
He pulled out and flipped her around, propping her up on the counter. Her legs closed around his waist. Glasses and jars flew to the floor as he swept them away with his free hand.
Her arms were back, bracing herself on the counter, her legs open.
He changed his pace, rolling his hips with every thrust. He leaned forward to kiss her, raising one hand to squeeze her breast and tug at her nipple.
Her head fell back, exposing her throat. He pulled her closer, tangling his fingers into her hair to yank her head to the side.
He came. His cock jerked deep inside her. He felt her burst apart around him, her fluids joining his. Her fingernails dug into his back, breaking the skin.
He fisted his hand in her hair and lowered his face to her throat, his fangs tearing through her skin. It sent him back into a second orgasm.

Now let’s see the same scene as it was published:

Without preamble he slammed into her hilt-deep. The beast within him, the vampire who craved her blood, roared with delight as Cecelia’s back arched and she cried out. Her voice mingled with his as he too yelled, a wordless cry of triumph.
Gripping her hips so hard his fingers hurt, he pulled back, then thrust again, and again, watching himself slide into and out of her, watching her skin grip his. The scent of her arousal hung heavy in the air like some exotic, expensive perfume, driving his sexual fury even higher.
A glance in the bathroom mirror showed him Cecelia’s face transported by pleasure, her eyes closed, her mouth open as she cried out again and again in time with his thrusts. The folds and fissures of her cunt massaged him, provided delicious friction against him as he ruthlessly stretched them, bruised them, forced them—and her—to comply to his demands.
He reached down between her legs, finding her hard little clit and rubbing it, feeling it stiffen further. He pinched it lightly, tugging on it, then letting go and grazing it in a circular motion with his palm. Her cries grew louder. So did his.
His free hand braced the top of her ass, and he shifted so he could slip his thumb into the puckered entrance and fuck her with it that way, filling her cunt with his cock and her ass with his thumb, continuing his assault on her clit with fingers soaking from her juices.
Her cunt swelled and tightened around him as she came, shaking, screaming, a flood of hot liquid pouring from her to drench his cock. “Julian!”
He almost fell apart, but stopped himself just in time, holding himself back. Instead he smacked her ass, hard enough to feel the vibrations deep inside her. His handprint showed red on one soft, round cheek as blood rushed to the surface. It took every ounce of strength he had not to turn completely feral at the sight.
“Cecelia,” he groaned, “Fuck…Cecelia…I could fuck you a million times and it wouldn’t be enough. It’s never enough.”
She didn’t reply, but her cunt still spasming around him told him everything.
He pulled out and flipped her around, propping her up on the counter. Her legs closed around his waist, pulling him close so he could sink back into her. Glasses and jars flew to the floor as he swept them away with his free hand, heedless of the sound they made hitting the tiles. He let her slide a little farther back, resting her more securely on the cold tile so he could thrust into her with more force.
The fever raging in his body still gripped him, gripped them both. Her arms were back, bracing herself on the counter, her legs open so he could watch their bodies joining. Her pussy gleamed, her dewy lips plump and pink above his thrusting cock, so engorged it looked almost purple. Filled with blood. He groaned and closed his eyes, then squeezed her waist, pressing her closer to him, urging her to put her arms around his neck and hold on.
This she did, her breasts bobbing against his chest with every movement.
He changed his pace, feeling himself getting ready to come apart, rolling his hips with every thrust. Heat poured into his pelvis, building to an unbearable level. Every muscle in his body vibrated and tightened as he leaned forward to kiss her, raising one hand to squeeze her breast and tug at her nipple. Her mouth tasted sweet, and he savored it, savored the connection with the last bit of sanity he had left.
Her head fell back, exposing her throat. The beast in him roared, shook, all but flew from his body in eager, blinding need.
He pulled her closer, tangling his fingers into her hair to yank her head to the side, keeping her gaze from him or the mirror.
He came. His body vibrated, trembling with a force like he’d never before experienced. His cock jerked deep inside her, sending waves of unbelievable pleasure through him. He felt her burst apart around him, her fluids joining his. Her fingernails dug into his back, breaking the skin, sending exquisite pain shooting through his body. His hoarse, low shout turned into something even deeper, something that rumbled in his throat as his vision went red.
Now. Now! NOW! He fisted his hand in her hair and lowered his face to her throat, his fangs tearing through her skin, slipping into her mind with ease and tasting her passion and pleasure along with her blood. It was enough to send him back into a second orgasm, something he’d only experienced once or twice in his life.
He spun on a thread, barely attached to his body, riding huge endless waves of pure pleasure, sending webs out through her to share it with him.

Now, if I’ve done my job properly, the second example should be MUCH more stimulating, erotically and otherwise. In the first all we get are bodies; in the second we have the addition of emotion, feeling, thought, sensation, personality… in other words, the first shows us nothing (or very little) about the characters, while the second gives us at least some insight into them. (Again, the majority of this takes place during foreplay.) The first is just bodies; the second is people. The first is telling; the second shows. If we can’t feel what your characters feel, we’re not feeling anything at all.

This is the difference between amateurish porn and erotica or erotic romance; porn is about bodies, erotica is about people. Telling isn’t sexy; it’s pornography, and it’s not what we’re doing.

We’ll be covering this in greater depth with more examples throughout; this is simply the first shot across the bow, as it were.

Today’s exercise: Read a couple of published sex scenes you find particularly arousing. How much of those scenes is pure physical description? How much is emotion, feeling, thinking? Which do you think is more important, what ratio is the most satisfying to you?

Now read one of your own scenes. Have you used emotion, sensation, and thought as effectively as you might, or do you think you can improve? Remember, every scene is different; some will call for more emotion/sensation/thought, some less, but it must be there if the scene is going to work.

Write a sex scene with no physical description at all. Just your character’s thoughts, emotions, and feelings. Now add the physical stuff in, bit by bit, until you’ve reached the “ratio” that pleases you the most (this will probably be different with every scene, btw.) How does that feel to you? Do you feel more or less confident about that scene than about the others you’ve written?

***Did you enjoy this series/find it helpful? You can now purchase it in print ($4.99 at Createspace) or ebook ($2.99 in numerous formats)! And if you feel moved to leave a review or something that’s great too, though of course not remotely necessary.***

BE A SEX-WRITING STRUMPET

9 comments to “Be a sex-writing strumpet Pt 11”

  1. Seeley deBorn
    Comment
    1
    · August 4th, 2008 at 8:30 am · Link

    Because I write in layers and my first draft is always just mechanical, I have to work really hard to get the correct level of emotion in sex scenes. I tend to hold back a bit because I don’t want to feel all sticky and emotional (as opposed to the other kind of sticky).

    There’s a line, I’m sure, but where do you think it is? And what’s the best way to see it?



  2. December/Stacia
    Comment
    2
    · August 4th, 2008 at 8:51 am · Link

    Hmm. (My first drafts tend to be the same, btw.)

    I think the line really does vary depending on what type of scene it is. There’s one scene in BWT where I think the most explicit description in the whole thing is a line about massaging a breast and “he slid into her” or something, because the scene is about J realizing he was in love with C, and so is much more about him and his emotions. But it’s because of that, that it’s hard to say for sure where the line is.

    I think writing it in layers is probably the best way to see it, or like I suggested, checking published scenes you like. A good rule of thumb for me is to generally make it a bit more emotional than I think it needs to be, then wait a while and read it again. Simply because I’m not a mushy type of girl but readers tend to like that stuff more.

    The problem of course is it’s very hard (for me anyway) to be really turned on by a scene I’ve written once it’s written. While I write it, absolutely, but afterward the thrill is gone a little bit.

    This is where a good beta reader is really valuable too. But honestly I don’t think it’s possible, really, to put too much emotion/sensation/thought into a sex scene. I guess you could go a little overboard, but I’ve never read a scene with too much.



  3. Charles Gramlich
    Comment
    3
    · August 4th, 2008 at 10:26 am · Link

    I actually tend to do the same kind of layering thing, for other kind of scenes, of course.



  4. Bernita
    Comment
    4
    · August 4th, 2008 at 11:25 am · Link

    Exactly!
    Without the personalities, it’s just mechanical sex.



  5. laughingwolf
    Comment
    5
    · August 5th, 2008 at 5:53 am · Link

    damn, dee… the second is so much more satisfying, feels like i’m a participant not an observer!

    thank you, and kudos!



  6. Gabriele C.
    Comment
    6
    · August 5th, 2008 at 7:09 am · Link

    Lol, when it comes down to the tricks ‘n bit, writing sex is no different from writing battles. :)



  7. December/Stacia
    Comment
    7
    · August 5th, 2008 at 7:22 am · Link

    Thanks everyone!

    Lol, yes Gabriele, that’s it. Writing sex without anything but physicality is just action. You need people to make it worthwhile.



  8. Demon Hunter
    Comment
    8
    · August 5th, 2008 at 8:14 am · Link

    This is some great stuff, December. It really helps me in an area of writing that is foreign to me.

    I made an announcement on my blog. Go read it please. :-)



  9. BernardL
    Comment
    9
    · August 6th, 2008 at 6:26 am · Link

    ‘This is the difference between amateurish porn and erotica or erotic romance; porn is about bodies, erotica is about people.’

    Great line!



Leave a Reply










XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>